28 April 2009

Notre Dame and abortion

Since we are back in Ohio, and I am dependent on using my husband's laptop after a long day of running a railroad, my bloggin has been very sporadic. Here then, are my comments on the fiasco of Notre Shame-

Ever since the late 1960s and the Land O Lakes charter nonsense, ND has undermined the Catholic identity in the public square in pursuit of secular glory. The beswt example is the continued presence of Father O'Brien as head of the Theology department. This year's commencment fiasco should be seen as the culmination of the efforts of those who openly seek to undermine Catholic identity in the UNited States. That being said, what a refreshing image we now have before us, of a formner US Ambassador to the Holy See declining to be awarded for her truly heroic efforts in the prolife arena, for recognizing how her award would truly look in the eyes of the non-Catholic public, and for standing up to be counted, and for failing to cause an even greater public scandal than the one already. God Bless Mary Ann Glendon!!!! Her letter, seen at First Things, is a wonder to behold, and a shining example of how to live your public life as a Catholic. BRAVO!!!!!

Musings on our overly secularized world

Like many of my fellow bloggers, I was amazed at Susn Boyle, that lovely SCottish woman of great talent adn, even more importantly, great moral character. While most publications and media have focused on the earthly riches that must surely come to her, I have only seen one article that discussed her actual humility and the strength of her character in its fullest light- Since I still have not figured out how to link (Yes a major blonde moment), here is the url which you can cut and paste inot your browser- the article first appeard on 14 April 209:

The writer hits a home run

Reflections on familial and human frailty

Our niece, Jennifer Amber Black, was buried yesterday. The grief is still tearing at her family, especially her parents as well as her paternal grandparents (who are my parents, for full disclosure) My mother, my Aunt Regina and I break down every time we speak to one another. Geoff is shell shocked at her death. My dad, whom I have never seen cry, also breaks down in his pain and grief over a loved grandchild, one whom he will never meet on earth. I wish that John and Jackie, her parents, had been spared this loss- I wish that there had been something that we could have done. We tend to forget that modern medicine cannot fix everything, and in this case could not. Our consolation is that she was baptised and is now in heaven with God and all his angels and saints.

The Crescat...: and the nominees are...

The Crescat...: and the nominees are...

23 April 2009

Reflections on my family

Jennifer's death on 21 April 2009, after an hour of life, has shattered not only her parents, but the rest of her family. Her father John is the second of my three brothers, all of whom are younger than I am. I also have four sisters, all of whom are, again, younger than I am. (John is the fifth child in birth order, and is a fraternal twin.) Of these women, my four sisters and I, two are married, and three are divorced. (I fall into both categories, as I am currently married to my beloved Geoffrey, but have been previously married and divorced twice, both times before my thirtieth birthday) We have over twenty first cousins on our maternal side, and second and third cousins on our paternal. Of our immediate family, I am the only one who is barren. Fertility issues abound amongst the women in our family. One first cousin underwent a hysterectomy at the age of 28, several years after giving birth to her only child out of wedlock. She is now a grandmother. Another endured either the stillbirth or miscarriage of twins, and she now is the mother of two. The two eldest of my younger sisters each miscarried their second child. The two younger sisters endured endometriosis, one even after having her only child. In 2008, two of my sisters in law, including Jennifer's mother, miscarried. Each of these women again conceived, with one live birth in November, and Jennifer's brief life on the 21st.

I am permanently estranged from all of my siblings, gong back to childhood, for reasons known and which I choose not to disclose, and for even more that are unknown to me. I have an irascible, unlikeable temperament, and have always known this to be the case. It is one of the bigger crosses with which God blessed me. I have always been on the outside looking in with my siblings, and it continues to this day. I suffer from severe PTSD for traumas going back over thirty years, yet when I seek the appropriate help, it is embarrassing to my family and I am told to suck it up. Another family trait is to hold onto perceived and real sins of others, hoarding them like acorns, and never forgiving. I refused to continue this "tradition" when only ten or so, and I pay for it to this very day, as does Geoffrey by extension.

When he and I became engaged in September 2001, right before the attacks on this country, the shock in my family was palpable. Even more so that I attended Jackie's bridal shower on 9 September 2001. (Jackie is John's beloved wife) I was ignored as if I had the plague, after a few well chosen snide remarks by one of my younger sisters, who was acting as the surrogate for the sibling sho has hated me for existing since we were children. She calls the shots in the family, and all willingly follow her lead. I was too stupid to acknowledge this until 1997, when a nightmare began for me that ended up costing me my career and financial security. The shock of it has never receeded either. But, I digress. Geoffrey and I attended John and Jackie's rehearsal dinner, which was the first time that Geoffrey would be meeting my parents and would be introduced to my siblings. For me, it was even worse than expected; Geoffrey wasn't even phased by it, but later said that my siblings acted as he had expected, poorly. While introducing him to my parents, my youngest brother and his wife refused to even acknowldege our presence, and the sister who rules the roost swept down in order to protect them from my presence. The wedding was even worse for me- I refused to sit with my family because of how Geoff was treated at the rehearsal (I expected to be maligned and was, even worse than I had forseen) Only John and Jackie were gracious to us and acknowledged us. This did not last long either, suffice it to say, I was again banished from sight and sound.

Turning the other cheek is a willful act, one at which I do not excel, but I worked at it for Geoffrey's sake. I would endure whatever the siblings would dish out, in an attempt to remain part of this family. Gifts were sent to the children born into the family after 2001, for both birthdays and Christmas. Cards were sent to all families at Christmas. Few if any cards were sent to me. No sibling attended our wedding, none of my sisters attended my shower. We were never invited to any family function- First Communion, Confirmation, high school graduation- nada.

Fast forward to 2008- the first miscarraige knocked me on my heels and our grief was unbearable. Messages were left, none were returned. My brother and his wife were shocked that we would feel grief for their loss, since they never met Geoff (this was the couple that walked away at the rehearsal dinner) and had never met their first child, nor been invited into their home. Gifts were sent to the elder child- no acknowlegment. When the second baby arrived, same thing. When we learned that Geoff would be working in Ohio, near where this particular branch of the family lived, I excitedly wrote, informing them of his schedule, and received no response. I had had enough. After receiving a snotty email about a Christmas gift from another sibling for her child, I was furious. Geoff and I weren't good enough to be part of this "family" but we were good enough to spend time and money on gifts. I was so furious that I wrote a letter to my brother in Ohio, who is the baby of the family, calling him on his behaviour. I even sent a copy to my parents, because our family always brings them into the tempests in teacups that we inflict upon each other. I even gave a copy to my psychiatrist, who Geoff found for me at I had intended to mail it in March, after we returned from Ohio (we were due to be there for the months of January and February of 2009). At his behest, I mailed it before we left. I did finally receive a call on my cell from James, who told me that he never wanted anything to do with either Geoff or myself while we were in Ohio or after. I even told my mother to never mention anyone of my siblings to me again- If not for her, we would never have known of Jennifer's death.

Anyway, this is not intended to belittle Jennifer's death. We feel her loss as if it she were our own, and because of these circumstances must grieve alone. We know that we would never have met her, or had anything to do with her, as we don't with her elder sister.

22 April 2009

Jennifer Amber Black, RIP

On 21 April 2009, my niece Jennifer Amber Black, was born prematurely at 24 weeks, naturally. Her mother, Jackie, beloved wife of my middle brother John, had been brought to the hospital due to contractions. This beautiful child, younger sister of Jessica Rose Black, died an hour after birth, having been first held and bathed by her adoring father, who also baptised her. She moved and made noises/sounds, which I believe in my heart were her way of telling her Dad that she knew him and loved him. The pain that Geoff and I have is excruciating, and I cannot even fathom that of Jennifer's parents. Our entire family has been devastated by this blow. John, Jackie and Jessica had been visitng my parents in SC only two weeks ago, immediately before Easter, and there were no problems- both Jackie and baby were in perfect health and Jennifer was due in early August. (Until her birth, her sex was unknown). Please pray for this beautiful child, taken from us way too soon. I simply cannot stop crying and grieving, the shock still too raw to process. I know that this is God's will, but to lose a loved and wanted child is simply unspeakable.

14 April 2009

Tea at Trianon: Housekeeping

Tea at Trianon: Housekeeping

What a timely reminder, now that we are celebrating Easter

03 April 2009

Le Fleur de Lys too: Jehanne La Pucelle#links

Le Fleur de Lys too: Jehanne La Pucelle#links


Geoff and I are back in Ohio, awaiting his company move package, which should appear in May. While using his laptop in our hotel room, as he sleeps, I read the below on The Anchoress' blog- I am speechless with shock and anger that anyone whould consider abortion a blessing, but this monstrous woman, a minister no less, does just that. The Anchoress has brilliantly dissected the abomination which was delivered in Birmingham, Alabama, at a conference, in 2007. May God have mercy on this person's soul. May the Anchoress forgive me for copying her post in its entirety:

"April 2, 2009
“Abortion is a blessing!”
You know, it’s so sick, I really didn’t want to write about it. I linked to Amy Welborn and figured I’d let you folks find this monstrosity on your own, but I want to make sure you read it.

These remarks were made before a NARAL audience, in 2007, but are only just getting some reaction, perhaps because of the current movement to suppress the conscience clause that protects doctors, nurses and pharmacists from losing their jobs, and Catholic hospitals from closing their doors.

Or, perhaps her words are becoming more widely distributed because The Rev Katherine Hancock Ragsdale has just been named Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massacusetts.

If you do not mind, in the interests of space, I am going to put Ragsdale’s sermon in bold, and I’ll respond here and there, in italics

Too often even those who support us can be heard talking about abortion as a tragedy. Let’s be very clear about this: When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

If you actually talk to women who have kept the babies conceived ‘due to violence,’ as I have in my life, you would more likely find that their allowing their child to live has delivered them from their trauma, and brought love, healing and light into a very dark reality. When “violence” has been done to someone, it seems counter-intuitive to suggest that further violence - via both penetration and a ripping, violent murder done deeply WITHIN her body - can be a blessing…unless you subscribe to the odd two-wrongs-make-right equation.

When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion – often a late-term abortion – to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

These two young mothers and their babies belie the idea that doctors are always correct in their predictions about sustainable life. With extremely rare medical exception, a woman never “requires” an abortion, and even the AMA has testified that late-term abortions are unnecessary, given the availability of safe Cesarean sections, to protect “life” or “health” or “fertility.” It is certainly a crushing and painful thing for any pregnant woman to learn that child she is carrying and nurturing in her womb has a problem and may not live, or may live “differently” than most of us. But healing is a funny thing. It only comes when you walk through the fire rather than by attempting a detour around it. I wonder if Rev. Ragsdale has ever talked to women who have delivered children destined to die, who have managed only to swaddle them, name them and kiss them before burying them. She might learn something about what a powerful, and unending - Eternal - love comes with those experiences. It is the difference between being able to say “I know you and you know me”, and not knowing, at all. Blessings, indeed.

When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

Certainly there are women who struggle with these issues, but there are pretty extensive government programs in place to assist them, and I have never heard of a church that has refused help when a need has been made known. And I reject out of hand the notion that if someone is poor, they should simply kill their children. Barack Obama’s mother surely had few social “justice” mechanisms in place when she chose to give birth to him!

But if Ragsdale is really worried about women being forced to abort because of insufficient government or community help, and if she is sincere about the notion of “informed choice” - including the “choice” not to abort, then perhaps she will head into the monied enclaves of the pro-choice, on the Upper West Side, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Hollywood and elsewhere to urge the establishment of a “Pro-Choice Mother’s Help Foundation,” so that more women have even more resources to help them. It seems to me the pro-abortion side raises enormous amounts of money to support their facilities and their lobbying efforts. Why not spend some of it putting some money on the “life” side of the “choice” they’re so very, very “pro” about? I’d donate to it - a show of good faith.

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

Actually, in this scenario, there are several tragedies “in sight.” There is - lest we forget - the ripping and shredding up of a human life (come on, Rev. Ragsdale - it’s a baby - a living being, species human, not vegetable, not wolvine), and more tragically a weird societal validation of the supremacy (and stagnation) of the beloved self, which compromises for no one and nothing, and puts nothing else before it. This is the ultimate, intimate idolatry, whereby one has made oneself a godling, a facsimile I AM. It is very tragic, indeed. It is also a lie and an illusion.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

Oh…boomers….they do love their group chants.

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes — in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work.

As you see, Rev. Ragsdale and I have very different ideas as to what constitutes a saint, and holy work.

Anyway, that was Ragsdale’s big finale. Earlier in the piece, she had another message to deliver, and you need to read that, too, is because we’re going to see doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others being told to go against their consciences or lose their livelihoods. Indeed, talk in that direction has already begun, and Ragsdale delivers the moralistic (and quite specious, condescending and adolescent) “talking points” for her crew:

Let me say a bit more about that, because the religious community has long been an advocate of taking principled stands of conscience – even when such stands require civil disobedience. We’ve supported conscientious objectors, the Underground Railroad, freedom riders, sanctuary seekers, and anti-apartheid protestors. We support people who put their freedom and safety at risk for principles they believe in.

But let’s be clear, there’s a world of difference between those who engage in such civil disobedience, and pay the price, and doctors and pharmacists who insist that the rest of the world reorder itself to protect their consciences – that others pay the price for their principles.

This isn’t particularly complicated. If your conscience forbids you to carry arms, don’t join the military or become a police officer. If you have qualms about animal experimentation, think hard before choosing to go into medical research. And, if you’re not prepared to provide the full range of reproductive health care (or prescriptions) to any woman who needs it then don’t go into obstetrics and gynecology, or internal or emergency medicine, or pharmacology. Choose another field! We’ll respect your consciences when you begin to take responsibility for them.”

As Rev. Ragsdale likes to say: Let’s be clear: this is genuine disorientation, species diabolical. The only consciences that will be respected are the ones that are aligned with the agenda. This is what “tolerance” has devolved to. “Tolerate me; but I need not tolerate thee.”

Or, to put it another way: Obey;your conscience means nothing to me.

And now, good people, if you would - I have received an email from a young woman who is 7 months pregnant with her first child and who also has been told by doctors that her daughter will not live past her birth. This mother and her husband are prepared to hold and love and kiss this child, and then let her go. But they also believe that - as the angel told Mary - with God nothing is impossible. I have written back to ask her if I may give you more details but in the meantime, please pray for them. As she wrote in her email, “I believe God uses others to keep His children going…”

How funny…in ten words, she articulates the whole mystery of life and love, better than Rev. Ragsdale or I ever could.

Women are screwed up if they think they do not have power:

By the world’s measure, the power of a woman lies in what she “does.” By Christ’s measure - by God’s - woman is intrinsically powerful, simply in her being. She is afforded the power, freedom and respect to “make” or “break” mankind’s connection to the Creator"